If you want Apple iPhone rumors, here's where to go

Most rumor sites seem to make up stuff, but a few have a good track record if you're looking for a hint of what is to come

I'm no fan of rumor sites -- they pollute the Web with misinformation, confusing buyers in the process and often serving as free, stealth ads for less-than-scrupulous vendors. The made-up stories can be hard to discern, unless you've followed a company closely and can spot their many occasions for alleged plans that fly in the face of the vendor's long-standing practices. As an example, compare a story I did last fall debunking the iPad 2 rumors with the actual iPad 2 product's details. The "planted" rumors are more obvious: Notice how certain blogs always have the supposed scoop on the same vendor's products.

But I recognize that we all -- myself included -- like to get as much of a heads-up as possible on technologies and products that excite us. That includes iPhones, iPads, and other companies' tablets and smartphones (these days, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and WebOS, in that order).

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If you're looking for tabloid thrills that may actually have some truth behind them, let me recommend the best, most plausible rumor sites:

1. The Register. This British news site isn't a rumor site per se, but it publishes a lot of stories on tech developments based on secret sources. The Register has a good track record, so it's clear that its journalists have actual sources. You can't completely rely on its accuracy on unannounced and prerelease products, but it's one of the truer sources for rumors.

2. Boy Genius Report. This unabashed fanboy site has a startlingly good track record on getting early indications of what will be in iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys, Androids, and other mobile devices weeks and sometimes months ahead of the pack. This is the one rumor site worth following. (Note that most of the fanboy sites such as Engadget, TUAW, and TiPb rely heavily on BGR -- so why not go straight to the original source?)

3. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Both newspaper sites usually get most of the goods on significant new mobile products, such as the iPad 2, a week or two before the official release. You won't find much on such items until shortly before their launches, when the actual hardware is in the supply chain but before they are available to customers, so you can't do long-term planning based on their secret sources' revelations.

And that's about it.

The rumormongers I'd avoid are the Bloomberg wire service -- it reported several times a year for three years that the Verizon iPhone was imminent, as an example of its track record -- and most fanboy sites, whose bloggers seem to talk to no one but themselves and their favorite vendors. The fanboy sites are great for gauging the passions of users, but don't rely on them for accuracy.

Likewise, compilation sites such as Techmeme and Slashdot can be great first stops to see what rumors are boiling -- as long as you don't believe most of the scuttlebutt relayed.

Regular news sites such as Ars Technica, Cnet, Computerworld, and Information Week all get scoops occasionally, but they're not in the business (thankfully) of rumormongering, so they shouldn't be your first stop for mobile gossip or scoops. Some news and product reviews sites -- such as PC World and PC Magazine -- run stories quoting the fanboy sites, becoming rumormongers by proxy. Don't be fooled by the "news" veneer of such rumor-retread reports -- they're no more credible when repeated on a news or reviews site than they are on the original fanboy site.

Watch out for the occasional stories on such sites quoting some obscure pundit (usually a financial analyst) predicting what Apple will do -- these are just rumors disguised as news. These folks have no idea what Apple will do; Apple doesn't talk to them, and I've interviewed enough of this crew over the years to have had them admit it. Apple doesn't even fill in the major analyst firms until just days before a product launch, if then.

As for the mobile predictions from such analysts around Microsoft, Google, RIM, Samsung, HTC, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, remain cautious. These firms tend to prebrief the analyst community, but they're selective and require those analysts to keep their mouths shut. Those commenters who speak publicly ahead of the official news are almost always those who didn't get briefed in advance. My advice is to disregard such stories.

InfoWorld is in basically the same camp as the major news and reviews sites: We're not about rumors, so we'll have the deep analysis you'll want for the technologies that are real but not the latest rumor about that antimatter-powered iPhone Nano 7G.

This article, "If you want Apple iPhone rumors, here's where to go," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.